Cremorne Theatre (fmr)

Author

City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Place Number

03468

Location

46 Hannan St Kalgoorlie

Location Details

Local Government

Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Region

Goldfields

Construction Date

Constructed from 1907, Constructed from 1936

Demolition Year

N/A

Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
State Register Permanent 12 May 2000 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Category
Art Deco Significant Bldg Survey Completed 30 Jun 1994
Classified by the National Trust Classified 06 Jun 1995
Municipal Inventory Adopted 09 Jul 2001 Category 1

Statement of Significance

Assessment of Significance: Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is a good example of an entertainment venue designed in the Federation Free Classical style. (Criterion 1.1) The fine facade of Cremorne Theatre (fmr) contributes to the Hannan Street streetscape which, spanning four blocks, is the most extensive, intact and significant commercial street representing the 1880s and 1890s goldrushes in Western Australia. (Criterion 1.4) The construction of Cremorne Theatre (fmr) was a result of the successful exploitation of the Eastern Goldfields and the continuing development of Kalgoorlie as the major administrative and commercial centre of the goldfields. (Criterion 2.1) Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is representative of the development of the entertainment industry and venues in Kalgoorlie during the early 1900s, and in particular with vaudeville theatre. The place has been used for various styles of entertainment in Kalgoorlie throughout its history. (Criterion 2.2) Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is representative of the third phase of construction on Hannan Street between about 1898 and 1908, when the timber and iron buildings were replaced with brick structures. (Criterion 2.2) The refurbishment of Cremorne Theatre (fmr) in 1936, with elements of art deco design, reflects the optimism that prevailed at the end of the Depression. (Criterion 2.1) Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is valued by the local community for its associations with entertainment and social activity in Kalgoorlie throughout the twentieth century. (Criterion 4.1) As a part of Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) contributes to the local and wider community's sense of place as a substantial reminder of the 1880s and 1890s goldrushes in Western Australia. (Criterion 4.2) As a theatre built in the early 1900s, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is an uncommon structure in Kalgoorlie and is one of only two theatres built during this period on the Eastern Goldfields. (Criterion 5.1) Cremorne Theatre (fmr) was the only theatre built in Kalgoorlie during the early 1900s, and as such is the sole representative example in the town of a class of building found elsewhere in Western Australia. (Criterion 6.1) Statement of Significance: Cremorne Theatre (fmr), a single-storey brick, stucco and iron building constructed in 1907, in the Federation Free Classical style, has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons: - the place was the only theatre built in Kalgoorlie during the early 1900s; - the place contributes to the Hannan Street streetscape which, spanning four blocks, is the most extensive, intact and significant commercial street representing the 1880s and 1890s goldrushes in Western Australia; - the place is representative of the development of the entertainment industry and venues in Kalgoorlie during the early 1900s, and in particular with vaudeville theatre. This is a reflection of the continuing development of Kalgoorlie as the major administrative and commercial centre of the goldfields dating from the 1880s and 1890s; - as a part of Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, the place contributes to the local and wider community's sense of place as a substantial reminder of the 1880s and 1890s goldrushes in Western Australia; - the refurbishment of the place in 1936, with elements of art deco design, reflects the optimism that prevailed at the end of the Depression; and, - the place is valued by the local community for its associations with entertainment and social activity in Kalgoorlie throughout the twentieth century.

Physical Description

Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is located at the northeast end of Hannan Street in Kalgoorlie, on the northwest side between Porter Street and Outridge Terrace. The building extends to both side boundaries and the front boundary. Cremorne Theatre (fmr) displays some characteristics of the Federation Free Classical style (Apperly et al, 1989: 104-107). The street frontage is double height with a parapet, showing construction of an obvious addition behind the parapet. Decorative pediments feature above each of the former arched window openings each side of the frontage. The pediments have floral moulded designs about a central oval shaped motif with a ‘C’ and ‘T’ entwined. Below each of the pediments, the arched windows are central within each bay which is formed by pilasters each side. The rendered facade shows evidence of former windows and doors which have been recessed and infilled. There is a plaque in place on the left side of the front facade. The facade is symmetrical about the four central doors which are recent interventions. The doors open into a foyer space with a low ceiling featuring an art deco centre piece. Each side of the foyer are offices and other rooms. On the left, several walls have been removed. Centre ahead in the foyer are double entry doors into the auditorium, flanked each side by a set of steps with timber tongue and groove dado wall, leading to the auditorium seating. Through the double doors and a short tunnel is the auditorium. The tunnel has recently been shortened by the removal of 10 metres of auditorium seating, as evidenced by the side brick walls and boarded front of the seating. The only remaining cinema seating in the stadium is damaged. The bio box was inaccessible. The auditorium has indoor-outdoor carpet laid over the timber floor, and two indoor cricket pitches, fully netted. The ceiling lining boards have been removed from the timber ceiling frame. The walls have engaged piers along the side forming bays with the original decorative air vents still in place in most bays. On the left wall, a number of the bays which originally had exit doors have sheets of zincalume sheeting over the former door openings. The truncated corner on the left corner of the stage has a zincalume roller door. Toilet facilities are in the right corner next to the stage. The raised timber stage is in place. There is still evidence of the cinema screen (c.1982) and sound equipment. The rear wall is face brick. Each side of the stage are vertical panels with geometric designed plaster. The external rear wall shows evidence of former openings and the more recent toilet construction. The hipped gambrel roof is clad with colorbond roof sheeting in a custom orb profile.

History

Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is a brick, stucco and iron building with a Federation Free Classical style facade, constructed in 1907 (Apperly et al, 1989: 104-107). The place was designed by architect Tom Roberts, and was originally built as an open-air venue for the performance of vaudeville and other live entertainment. In 1908, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) was roofed. In 1936, the place was renovated by Hobbs, Forbes & Partners. Some art deco features were added to the interior at this time, and a separate picture garden was established on a nearby site. In 1982, the place was refurbished and its use as a cinema revived for a few years. Cremorne Theatre (fmr) is currently used as an indoor cricket and social venue. In June 1893, Paddy Hannan and his partners discovered alluvial gold thirty miles (48 kms) north-east of Coolgardie. A camp, known as Hannan's Find, quickly developed at the site, with bough huts and hessian and canvas structures erected along the edge of the track from Coolgardie. Many of these structures housed businesses to serve the prospectors who flocked to the area. Later that year, George Brookman and Sid Pearce located gold reefs three miles south of Hannan's Find, at what was to become Boulder. On 4 September 1894, Hannan's Find was declared the townsite of Kalgoorlie. The track from Coolgardie became the main street and was named Hannan Street (Webb, 1993: 91; King, 1995: 15; Laurie, 1995: 2-4). With the establishment of the townsite, the second phase of building along Hannan Street began. This was facilitated by the arrival of the Eastern Goldfields railway line in September 1896, which made the transport of more substantial building materials much easier. The original structures were replaced with timber-framed buildings clad in galvanised iron, and usually lined internally with hessian or canvas. The early buildings presented a very real fire hazard, and there were a number of fires in Hannan Street over the ensuing years. Between 1898 and 1908, substantial brick buildings replaced the timber and iron and hessian structures in the town centre, although many timber and iron residences remained in the town (Webb, 1993: 430-432, 540). When the Eastern Goldfields railway line reached Kalgoorlie, the journey to and from Perth was reduced from weeks to hours. One of the changes that occurred was the greater variety of entertainment available as travelling troupe's made the train journey to the goldfields. In 1897, Fitzgerald's Circus, the Olde English Fayre Company, Alfred Dampier's Theatre Company and Harry Rickard's Tivoli Company were among the first to arrive (Webb, 1993: 569-571). The Miner's Institute was Kalgoorlie's only large indoor theatre venue in 1897, so Harry Rickard provided his own venue by constructing the open-air Tivoli Gardens on an acre of land in Dugan Street. The Tivoli opened in July 1897, about three months after The Cremorne Theatre and Hotel opened in Coolgardie. It provided seating for 150, and room for 2,000 in total, with a gentleman's lounge, a bar and a ladies' tea-room. The dust and the dogs detracted from the comfort of patrons however, and in 1900, the Tivoli was roofed and renovated, and the place renamed Her Majesty's Theatre (Webb, 1993: 569-571). The matter of patrons' comfort was uppermost when the Cremorne Gardens were designed in 1906, as the Western Argus reported at the time: "Mr Henry Greville, the well known caterer, who has secured an extension of the lease of the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Hannan Street, has arrangements in tow for providing the public of Kalgoorlie and districts with further facilities for recreation and amusement. Mr Greville states that he has obtained the right to the occupancy of the vacant quarter-acre block of ground immediately adjoining the hotel premises on the easterly side. He has already instructed the architect, Mr Tom Roberts, to prepare plans and specifications for using the entire site for the purposes of Cremorne Gardens. Mr Greville says that no reasonable expense will be spared in making the place comfortable for patrons. He considers that there is a first class opening in Kalgoorlie for a venture of the kind, especially during summer nights. Ample stage accommodation will be provided at the rear of the block. Mr Greville said the stage will fully equal that of the Theatre Royal in Perth in point of dimensions. The depth of the stage from the footlights to the back will be 40ft. There will be a handsome proscenium, and dressing-rooms for the artists engaged… will flank the stage. [He] proposes to lay down couch grass, which will form the floor so to speak, of the portion of the Cremorne Gardens reserved for patrons paying 3/- and 2/- for admission, and provisions will be made for 800 canvas chairs for their benefit. Abutting on Hannan Street there will be a gallery with seating capacity for 400 people. A side entrance from Hannan Street will enable 'the gods' to reach their position of vantage. It is intended that the Cremorne will have a commanding frontage to Hannan Street, with an arched opening in the centre for the ingress of 'frontseaters'. Mr Greville, who has also decided to make a number of alterations in the hotel premises to suit the requirements of the Cremorne Gardens, purposes [sic] to float some of the shares in the venture and retain the remainder himself. He believes that his project comes under the head of a good payable proposition" (Western Argus, 11 September 1906: 8). Henry Greville was successful in floating shares for the project. The Cremorne Theatre Gardens Limited was launched with Mayor J. H. Cummins as director, F. A. Chapple JP as secretary, and provisional directors S. E. Hocking JP, J. H. Cummins JP, Henry Greville, George Paulin, C. Clark, William Montgomery and G. R. Addis. The land on which the Cremorne Theatre Gardens was to be built was Lot 453, at the eastern end of Hannan Street. It had been owned since 1900 by Henry Wilmot Cave (C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190, 27 March 1900). On 15 January 1907, the Mayor, J. H. Cummins, laid the foundation stone of Cremorne Theatre Gardens (Western Argus, 29 January 1907: 26). "The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new Cremorne Theatre Gardens at the east end of Hannan-street was performed yesterday afternoon at 4 0'clock by the Mayor of Kalgoorlie (Mr J. H. Cummins) in the presence of a large number of people. The mayor was presented with a silver trowel and mallet by S. E. Hocking on behalf of the directors. A function subsequently took place in the Duke of Cornwall Hotel where the mayor presided over a representative gathering of towns people. A number of optimistic and congratulatory speeches were delivered relative to the new building, which is not yet completed but which will be occupied for the first time on Monday night next, the 21st inst, by Mr Harry Rickard's Company" (Kalgoorlie Miner, 16 January 1907: 4). An item in the 'amusements' column of the Kalgoorlie Miner announced that: "Arrangements are now completed for the opening of the new place of amusement, the Cremorne Gardens, Hannan Street, next to the Duke of Cornwall hotel. Mr Harry Rickards will present his "All Star" Vaudeville Company on Monday next including 20 of the best artistes, headed by the "European Marvel" Brinn. The box plan will be open tomorrow morning at Nicholson's musical warehouse" (Kalgoorlie Miner, 16 January 1907: 4). Two other theatre gardens were advertising that summer - Morris' Summer Gardens and O'Toole's Palace Gardens. They appear to have been only short term venues. Other entertainment on offer to residents in the summer months included recitals by a number of local brass bands that played regularly at various parks (Kalgoorlie Miner, 7 January 1907: 5). Harry Rickard's Company was still playing at Cremorne Theatre Gardens three months later when the Western Argus reported on the theatre's progress. "The Cremorne Gardens and Theatre, situated in Hannan-street East, adjoining the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, are without doubt the most popular place of amusement in Kalgoorlie, and the large audience that attend nightly never fail to find a fund of mirth and music in the programmes presented, not to speak of the feats of specialists in all manner of entertaining exhibitions. The Gardens furnish subjects for a number of illustrations in the present issue, but some few details may be briefly set forth which pictures cannot convey. First of all it should be mentioned that the Gardens were opened on January 21 of the present year, and are still occupied by Mr Rickard's Vaudeville Company, now in its eleventh week - the longest run of any theatrical enterprise on the goldfields. The season throughout has been remarkably successful, the weekly changes of programme and constant arrival of new performers inducing most liberal patronage. There is seating accommodation for 1600 people, but on frequent occasions this has proved inadequate, and many have had to stand. The Gardens have been leased for five years to Mr Leonard Davis, whose experience in the management of the Palace Gardens in Perth stands him in good stead. Mr J. E. Moore represents Mr Harry Rickards, and under the existing arrangement the residents of the goldfields are afforded the opportunity of witnessing the performances of the most talented and popular artists whom Mr Rickards brings to Australia. The wisdom of charging very moderate admission fees cannot be gainsaid, for by imposing a low charge the habit of paying at least a weekly visit to Cremorne is encouraged, and to do this is fast becoming habitual with amusement lovers, who find in the vaudeville stage a pleasant relaxation from the ordinary cares and dullness [sic] of life. It is without a doubt the cordial wish of all who patronise the Gardens that Cremorne may continue to flourish under the present management" (Western Argus, 23 April 1907: 24-25). The title to Lot 453 was transferred to the Cremorne Theatre Gardens Limited on 26 November 1907 (C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190, 26 November 1907). William Anderson, a theatrical manager based in Melbourne, took out a ten year lease on Cremorne Theatre Gardens on 1 May 1908. Lease payment was £650 a year (C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190, 26 November 1907). On 11 May 1908, a special Council meeting was held to consider alterations to the building application originally approved by the Council 'to alter and roof in the Cremorne Theatre'. The Council had required that iron uprights, rather than jarrah, be used in the construction but the iron had not arrived and the contractor had gone ahead with the jarrah instead. Henry Greville and William Anderson were requesting that the Council's requirements be rescinded temporarily. The outcome of the meeting was the granting of permission to use jarrah uprights to support the new roof on condition of payment of a £200 bond and the construction of a brick building within six months (Western Argus, 2 June 1908: 12. Note: No reference to the fulfilment of this condition has been located. However the building that exists is brick). On 23 May, the newly roofed Cremorne Theatre (fmr) staged the Australian play 'The Squatter's Daughter'. "The desire to see the Australian play 'The Squatter's Daughter' attracted a full house at the Cremorne Theatre on Saturday night, and nearly an hour before the commencement the gallery was full of people who had been waiting in the street to be sure of securing a seat. Notwithstanding the great rush which the contractor had to make to get the work completed about two weeks before the time stated in the contract, everything was comfortable, and the staging was accomplished successfully" (Kalgoorlie Miner, 25 May 1908: 6). There was no mention made of the sliding roof section, which Cremorne Theatre (fmr) was noted for, suggesting that it may have been a later addition (National Trust Assessment, prepared by the Art Deco Society, suggests that the sliding roof was added during the c. 1936 refurbishment). The seating in the place was the same as it had been when it was an open-air venue - canvas deckchairs and 'non-upholstered forms', but a corrugated iron 'bio-box' had been added in the centre of the tiered gallery for the projection of biograph pictures. A biograph programme comprised up to twenty films of two minutes duration, 'comics' lasting three or four minutes, and dramas of eight to ten minutes each. There were two intervals during the evening, and a printed programme of the night's entertainment was provided to each patron (Bell, 1985: 106). Other entertainment venues opened in 1908. The Hippodrome Hall roller-skating rink opened at the western end of Hannan Street in May. Biograph pictures were shown there during the skating off-season (summer) (Webb: 1993, 573). In September 1908, the Kalgoorlie Town Hall was opened. As well as a banqueting room, it had a 'full-scale theatre with balcony seating, a stage and proscenium arch… and for warm summer evenings, a sliding roof' (Webb, 1993: 600). The Town Hall venue was used by top class acts such as Nellie Melba. With the opening of the Town Hall, Her Majesty's Theatre closed. Another theatre, the Majestic, was built sometime between about 1914 and 1918. During World War One, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) was sub-leased to picture show proprietor Samuel Madorsky. On 1 October 1918, a five year lease was taken out by George Tallis and Francis William Thring of Melbourne. They extended the lease for another five years when the first lease expired (C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190, 26 April 1915, 1 October 1918, 1 October 1923). Tallis and Thring were entrepreneurs of movie exhibition and live theatre all over Australia. They also ran the Majestic Theatre in Kalgoorlie at this time (Bell, 1985: 113). Tallis and Thring did not renew their lease on the Cremorne for a third time, and E. P. Nelson took over the running of both Cremorne Theatre (fmr) and the Majestic Theatre (C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190; Bell, 1985: 107). Operating as Goldfields Pictures Limited, E. P. Nelson purchased the Cremorne Theatre (fmr) in 1935 and, at some point, also acquired the Majestic, and the Palace Theatre in Boulder (C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190, 16 December 1935). The Company retained architects Hobbs, Forbes & Partners to design the refurbishment of Cremorne Theatre (fmr). Included in the plan was a new picture garden on the land adjoining the west side of the Duke of Cornwall hotel and on which was situated the Friendly Society Building (Sketch plans, 24 March 1936, Health Department public buildings file, State Records Office, WAS 1457 CONS 5094, Item 470; Wise's Post Office Directories, 1941-1949). The refurbishment included the addition of art deco features to the interior of the building, in particular to the foyer and lounge areas. The sliding roof section, supported on steel trusses, was probably added at this time, and there may have been changes to the gallery seating. Externally, the side entrances were bricked in (National Trust assessment, prepared by the Art Deco Society. Note: the assessment states that the place was simply a large hall at the time of the c. 1936 refurbishment but earlier photographs clearly show the tiered seating gallery. How much of this was retained, if any, is not clear). The refurbishment, and the new picture garden, were completed c. 1936 (Wise's Post Office Directories, 1930s). In the 1970s, attendance at theatres and cinemas waned, due to the popularity of television and drive-in movie theatres for the most part. Goldfields Pictures' efforts to sell Cremorne Theatre (fmr) at this time were unsuccessful. After offering the place to the Kalgoorlie Council for $21,000 and $17,000 in 1975, the Company offered the place for the nominal sum of $50 plus transfer costs on the guarantee that the building would be used for community purposes. Council accepted, and ownership was transferred to the Town of Kalgoorlie on 28 May 1976 (Minutes of meeting of General Purpose Committee of City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 21 June 1993, HCWA File 3468; C/T Vol. 1059, Fol. 611, 28 May 1976). The place was occupied by Kalgoorlie Indoor Cricket at around this time (Photograph, 1982, HCWA File, National Trust assessment, prepared by the Art Deco Society). In 1982, Westralian Drive-Ins Pty Ltd, who were operating the Twin City Drive-In at Kalgoorlie, took a ten year lease on Cremorne Theatre (fmr). They refitted the building with art deco style seats, candy bar counter and other furniture from the Plaza Cinema in Perth. Projection equipment, sound system, laced screen and all the latest technology of a cinema operation were installed. The original timber gallery seating was retained. As well as an operating cinema, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) was also the venue for the Blue Light Disco for teenagers. The cinema revival and the discos were popular for some two years, until another operator took over the lease and the business eventually failed (National Trust assessment, prepared by the Art Deco Society). In the late 1980s and the 1990s, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) has again been used as a venue for indoor cricket and other social activities. The roof was repaired about 1991, and the ceiling was removed in 1996, after a section collapsed (Kalgoorlie Miner, 28 June 1996: 1-2). Photographs dating from the 1970s and 1980s indicate that the sliding roof section section was extant at that time. It was most likely removed during the 1991 roof restoration (Photograph, 1982, HCWA File 3468 & early 1970s, Bell, 1985: 106). Following a period of public comment, Kalgoorlie-Boulder City Council put Cremorne Theatre (fmr) up for sale by tender. In November 1996, title was transferred to Sheo Pty Ltd (C/T Vol. 1059, Fol. 611, 8 November 1996). In 2001, Cremorne Theatre (fmr) continues to be used as a venue for indoor sports.

Integrity/Authenticity

Integrity: Moderate to Low Authenticity: Moderate to Low

Condition

Fair - Poor

Associations

Name Type Year From Year To
Tom Roberts Architect 1907 -
Hobbs, Forbes and Partners Architect 1936 -

References

Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190 26 November 1907
C/T Vol. 120, Fol. 190 27 March 1900
WAS 1457 CONS 5094, Health Department public buildings file; "Sketch Plans". State Records Office 24 March 1936
"Newspaper Article". p.26 Western Argus 29 January 1907
"Newspaper Article". p.24-25 Western Argus 23 April 1907:
Laurie, K; "Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie: Our Golden Heritage: a Heritage Walk Along Hannan Street". p.2-4 Kalgoorlie-Boulder Tourist Centre WA and A Government of Western Australia 1995
File 3468; C/T Vol. 1059, Fol. 611 HCWA 28 May 1976
Webb M; "Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia". p.91, 430-432, 540, 569-571, 600 City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder 1993
Bell MD; "Perth: A Cinema History," p.106 London 1985
"Newspaper Article". p.4 Kalgoorlie Miner 16 January 1907
Art Deco Society; "National Trust Assessment". National Truct WA
"Newspaper Article". p.6 Kalgoorlie Miner 25 May 1908
King N; "The Voice of the Goldfields: 100 Years of the Kalgoorlie Miner,". p.15 Hocking and Co, Kalgoorlie. 1995
"Wise's Post Office Directories". 1941-1949

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
11459 Picture Palaces of the Golden West Book 2016

Place Type

Individual Building or Group

Uses

Epoch General Specific
Original Use SOCIAL\RECREATIONAL Theatre or Cinema
Present Use SOCIAL\RECREATIONAL Other Sports Building

Architectural Styles

Style
Federation Free Classical

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall BRICK Common Brick
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron

Historic Themes

General Specific
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Cultural activities

Creation Date

15 Apr 1994

Publish place record online (inHerit):

Approved

Last Update

31 Dec 2016

Disclaimer

This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.